Artwork by Krystal Rodriguez
I want to talk for a moment about gratitude. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re a good teacher. It’s not that much of a limb, really. You’re spending your spare time reading about education, which means you care enough about your craft and your students to pursue new ideas. You’re a good teacher. And often, in the course of being a good teacher, you come across gratitude. Sometimes it’s the parent, thankful for your extra time. Sometimes it’s the student, grateful for your compassion. Sometimes it’s the alumni, reflectively appreciative for your direction. On the rare occasion, it’s the administrator, pleased with your dedication. Often, as a young teacher, I was uncomfortable with the attention. When presented with gratitude, I would dodge it a bit. I would respond with, “It was no big deal,” or “Not a problem.” But that’s not true. It was a big deal. I gave extra. I sacrificed my time, energy, and talents. Yeah, I enjoyed doing it, but that’s beside the point. When I dodged the compliment, it was disrespectful, both to the sacrifices that I made and to the importance of the student who I made those sacrifices for. Now, every time I receive gratitude, I look them right in the eye and reply with, “I am happy to be of service,” and “You (or your student) are worth every moment of my time.” First of all, it’s much closer to the truth, but secondly, when someone goes out of their way to thank you for what they did for them, they deserve to know that it was meaningful, that you did it because you value them. People thank you because they want you to know that you mean something to them. To respond with, “It was no big deal,” implies that they didn’t mean much to you. And I know that’s not true, because I know you’re a good teacher.